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First, thanks to my twitter friends for the questions, you gave me some really good ones!
Here’s a question from Courtney. Would you like to write for a prime time TV Show?
Sure! As long as I can still wear worn out jeans and a sweater or t-shirt, (depending on the weather). Most television shows are so tightly formatted that one friend who does it for a living described it as writing Haikus. My favorite thing would be to write something that was both dramatic and funny. I’m a bit daunted by the schedule they have to keep, and I know from working on shows as an actress that so many decisions are made by committee that it is sometimes difficult to be as creative as you would like to be. But, bring it on! I’m cracking my knuckles now!
And three questions from Cindy. If you were on a deserted island what 3 things would you take with you and why?
Okay, let’s assume there is plenty of fresh water, fruit, fish, and something to build a suitable shelter with, I mean, necessities first, but then….
#1. My husband, since we’d rather spend time with each other than anyone else and for other obvious reasons.
#2. A trunk full of classics that I never had time to read or that I love so much I will read them again and again. (Imagine, nothing to do but read, heaven!)
What is the quality you admire most in a man? In a woman?
I don’t know that the qualities I admire are different in a man or a woman. The two qualities I admire most in life are kindness and courage. But I also value intelligence, open-mindedness, an eagerness to learn, a consciousness about helping others, and…a great laugh!
Who are your favorite heroines in real life? Fiction?
My number one heroine in real life is the director of my charity, The Desi Geestman Foundation. Ileana Geestman. She lost her daughter, Desi, when she was twelve, and within eight months had a charity up and running in her name. Most people who loose a child can’t face anything to do with other’s pain in that way, but she has made a life of helping others going through the same thing. In fact, the whole family has. Desi always wanted to help the other children she saw suffering when she was going through her cancer journey, and that will to help and love lives on through her family, her mother, and the efforts of so many caring people at City of Hope hospital and many others.
My favorite heroine in fiction? Probably Amanda in Tom Robbins’ “Another Roadside Attraction.” She is the embodiment of the feminine in a completely unassuming way that is mixed with magic. “When Amanda became pregnant during a thunderstorm, she was heard to muse, ‘Was it the lightning, or the lover?’ When her child was born with electrical eyes, no one laughed.”
And from Monica. Do you believe in life after death and if yes, what would you like to be once reborn?
I do believe that no energy ever dies. I have heard and seen too many things to think that it is impossible for that energy to go on after the physical self dies. As for straight reincarnation? If I were to come back it would be as a flying squirrel. Think how much fun I could have! And everyone would think I was amazing for doing what came naturally. Whee! Look out, I’m going to jump!
Do you prefer plot or character driven stories and why?
I prefer both. I like my plots to move along, because…that’s what I like to read! But if the characters don’t have an ‘arc’ then my actor self gets frustrated. When I read a script I look for ways that the character grows or changes, that makes for an interesting part to play. On the other hand, my favorite author is P.G. Wodehouse, who managed to keep his stable of fabulous characters the same for over ninety novels, and countless short stories and series. That’s why I go back to those books again and again, it’s always funny and safe there. But for me, I need a body in the library every couple of chapters. Let’s move it along!
When you write your characters, how much of yourself do you give to them?
A little piece of my heart (and/or a twisted part of my brain) goes into each and every one. If I can’t make them real and relate to it, it doesn’t work. I’ve acted so many different characters, played enough moms, psychos, murderers, ball-busting businesswomen, terrified victims, et al, to know that we each have all of those people in us. We just have to isolate those traits, and then exaggerate!!
And from Brittney. What advice can you give to new actors and to new authors?
Number one, Don’t take it personally!! Choosing either of those careers catapults you into a ruthless, competitive world. You will meet some very helpful, kind people, but not very often. Acting especially. Think of it this way; most people go job-hunting a few times in their lives and it’s nerve-racking, actors do it every day! It’s tough on the confidence. And the real truth is, once you get down to those with talent, who gets the part and becomes super successful is random! I remember a friend, a very big actor, saying to me, “You can’t control whether or not the show or film is successful, you can only do the best job you can on it and keep your fingers crossed!” And I remember Clint Eastwood receiving a lifetime award saying, “Having a career like mine is like winning the lottery, three times!” And he didn’t say it to an empty chair. As a writer, I have only this to say; find your voice. Do not try to imitate anyone else’s, they’ve already done it! All you have to offer is your unique point of view and way of expressing it. Seek it out. It’s worth it.
And from Morgaine. What are your hobbies? Favorite travel destinations? Food, music?
Whoa there Bessie, that’s a long list. But briefly…
Hobbies— cooking, hiking, gardening, sewing, wild flower arranging, photography, writing, learning, reading, laughing, meeting interesting people, craftsy stuff and staring at the sky.
Travel destinations— Italy, especially Venice, the Caribbean, (where my family had a second home when I was growing up, heaven!) our amazing national parks, anywhere with deep, primal forests, Africa, especially Kenya, Holland, Northern England and Scotland, and anywhere else that is beautiful, rich in culture, or has excellent or unique cuisine, art and history.
Food—all of it, as my new character Ellen says, especially bacon.
Music— classical, big band, jazz and blues. I’ll take Louis Armstrong and Ella Fitzgerald over almost anybody. I only wish I could have seen them play live! That would be my Cochella!
And last, from Beth W. What is the secret of happiness?
I’m so glad someone finally asked me that. The secret to happiness is to expect nothing. If you expect and ask for too much, you will always ultimately be disappointed, because no thing or experience can fulfill you permanently. On the other hand, if you expect nothing in particular, then when good things happen you will always be delightfully surprised and richly rewarded. It can also help to remind yourself how happy you are. That works too.